Saturday, October 14, 2006

The gnarly bus trip to Bela Vista

As would happen in Mozambique, there would be some reason why I won't make it to the end destination without some form of barrier. I was supposed to leave on the afternoon of Wednesday, October 11, but of course, the translator/moderator was also having transportation problems of getting around town and catching buses on time. So, there is was 3:00pm - still in my apartment, we weren't going to make the ferry to catch the 3:00pm bus on the other side.

Then the morning after, we planned to make the 9:00am bus on the other side at Catembe so the translator said that he would meet me at 7:30 in front of the cinema. Once again, like Mozambican time, his arrival was naturally later than the time set (it was the traffic, obviously) and I waited until 8:15 to hear a text message that he was waiting outside. So off we went to try to catch another chapa called A vodador in front of Mundo's restaurant because it was only going to cost 5 MTZ to get to the ferry docks instead of 100,000 MTZ by cab. We get to the docks in 30 minutes (usually 5 minutes via taxicab) and off we went on the ferry to the other side. Of course, the reservation that we made on the bus was no longer valid and the bus was packed full of people heading to Bela Vista. And of course instead of leaving at the usual 8:30-9am departure time, we left at 9:30am. The translator explained to me that they do this in order to pack the bus and make more money from the number of passengers.

Well, if the late departure time wasn't the issue, it was the fact that the bus broke down 3 times before reaching Bela Vista within 3 hours. The trip usually take just under 2 hours. So there we were, sweaty in the packed bus eating only salty crackers and lichee juice boxes and stuck on an unpaved bumpy road to where I will stay for now 2 weeks.

Now that I have accepted the fact of this "African" time debacle, I have settled in to a place called Quinta Milla run by this woman called Amelita. The place lies in front of the beautiful setting of the Maputo River and has a lovely vegetable garden and two old dogs "guarding" or basking in the sun at the place. The room is simple with a double bed and sofa and running cold water from the shower, toilet and sink. I can ask for hot water as well which would come in a plastic bucket.

The translator invited me to meet his family and 3 year old girl and we had gazelle soup and some tomato based goat dish with tomato salad and rice. This seems to be the typical going meal here in Bela Vista.

As for my work, it seems to be going well. I have already interviewed the head of the Red Cross association in Matutuine district, some of the nurses at the Centre of Health of Matutuine, the business association and of course the community centre development of Kutsemba. I have also tried to line up interviews with the head local leaders (the Administrator and traditional leader), the women's group leader, the parent's association and hopefully the district head of agriculture. At least I won't be this unknown figure walking around this small village.

Overall feelings: it is amazing to be in this village as I am told the changes and the continuous obstacles of this village. The business association had pushed for electricity, running water and cell-phone communication and it exists in this town. Yet the running water is only found at several taps in the city which all people have to walk to in order to access and sometimes (like yesterday) it is shut off because someone either failed to pay the bill or didn't do their job that day. I also see some form of growth as some people are able to build with concrete blocks in the town while the majority still live in reed homes. I look forward to interview the clients of the microfinance institution and how it has helped their business to grow or fail in the next few weeks. I will likely not be in contact on this blog until I am back in Durban at the end of the month.

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